Just a few days ago, I sent a note to my prayer group lamenting that although I’m thankful not to be overwhelmed with the commercialization of Christmas this year, I am a bit sad not to see experience ANYTHING related to the holidays since we are in Thailand. My wise friend Kate responded that this was an opportunity to just focus on Jesus and the manger, nothing more. Since everything else was stripped away, we can focus on God’s gift to us without all of the distractions. They were sweet words I needed to hear, and I began to rest in that reality.
But, just as God has shown us multiple times over the course of planning and taking this trip, He knows our hearts and loves to give more than we can imagine. This morning it came in the form of a beautiful missionary church service. We connected with an American couple who live in Chiang Mai and have volunteered many years for CBS (Community Bible Study, the same study we do at home). They picked us up and took us to their church where we sang Christmas hymns, saw the advent candle being lit (peace, how apropos) and heard a wonderful sermon. Luke even got to participate in their children’s nativity presentation at the end of the service! (He reprised his role as a wise man.)
The Lord knew I yearned for a community of Christians to celebrate this time of year. While I will continue to focus on the simple but life-changing gift of the baby in the manger (and hope you can, too), I am full of awe and gratitude for the extra gifts of love He is providing along the way.